Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp explained his decision to leave Xherdan Shaqiri out for his side’s trip to Red Star Belgrade, saying his team’s focus was purely on the game.
Shaqiri was born in Kosovo, an ethnically Albanian province that fought a war of independence against Serbian-dominated Yugoslav forces in the late 1990s. The Serbian government refuses to recognise Kosovo’s independence.
The 27-year-old made headlines during the World Cup after celebrating his winner for Switzerland against Serbia by crossing his hands to imitate an eagle, which appears on Albania’s flag.
Klopp opted against taking the attacker to Belgrade for Tuesday’s Champions League clash and said Shaqiri had accepted his decision.
“I took a lot of times in my life a decision about a playing squad, a travel squad, and so far the player’s always accepted it,” he told a news conference.
“We come here as a football team and we represent one of the biggest football clubs in the world. That’s why we’re here, to play football. We want to focus on that, that’s all.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) November 5, 2018
“And because of the situation, people here all know better how the situation is, we decided not to bring Shaq here.
“And I said it, he’s our player, he will play a lot of games for us but not [on Tuesday], that’s all.”
Liverpool thrashed Red Star Belgrade 4-0 last month and top Group C by a point heading into the clash.
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